This is my personal blog and does not necessarily reflect the collective views of Hard Limits Press

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cerulean Sins Chapter Six

There are tons of tunnels and rooms under the Circus. Sure why not. They're lit by torches, because just when you thought the ABverse couldn't get any more cliched, it comes from behind to surprise you.

Jean-Claude appears through a gap in his froofy curtains and beckons them in to his room. He is dressed like a high school play understudy with a leather fetish, yet somehow he is the sexiest man Anita has ever seen.

Not only does Anita want him, she WANTED him. She claims she usually wants to engage in the horizontal mambo when J.C. is around, despite her pulling the frigid virgin good girl act every time she's in close proximity to a dong.

Anita has started scheduling ardeur feedings in to her day. I like this, actually. I think it's hilarious, plus it's the first practical thing she's ever done despite constantly insisting that she's the most practical person to ever walk the planet. She tells J.C. it's ten to midnight, meaning she needs to feed in ten minutes. Then why the fuck is she at the Circus without her pomme de sang? You'd think they could go fetch him real quick. Or pick up a drive through hamburger, because I thought Anita could stave off the ardeur by eating. Which she also can't do or enjoy because that's too close to enjoying earthly pleasures like sex and she'd have to turn in her good girl card. Gag. 

Anita calls her vagina her "lower place."

Anita infodumps a bunch of truly boring shit about the ardeur. 

It turns out Anita will feed off of Micah, but she won't let J.C. feed off of her. I think J.C. has a right to be a tad bit put out over this development. She's known Micah for what, a month? And she's willing to share that with him but not with her long term partner? Okay then. I don't pretend to understand anything Anita does.

Anita figures the visiting vamps won't wait for her and J.C. to have "hot monkey sex." So even though Anita just told us that the ardeur is immensely dangerous unless you feed, she's going to walk in to an extremely delicate political situation with one of Belle's lieutenants, hungry. Remember that Belle Morte is the origin of the ardeur and has been using that very power to manipulate Anita and J.C. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

These people have never heard of quickies I guess. J.C. ought to get down on his knees and eat Anita's pussy like there's a famine on, but that would be too interesting so it defo won't happen.

"I felt Damian's sorrow at my cool touch, felt it like a taste across my tongue, as if rain could have a flavor."

Does this fool really think rain doesn't have a fucking flavor? Holy shit, I just died. Also good job feeling a taste.

Damien wants to fuck Anita because of course he does. He's her "pet" now and if she cuts him off he'll "die in truth" because this is now a performance art piece where everyone swans around in period outfits clumsily cut from reject bolts of crinkly velvet.

Behold, for in truth there is much infodumping and verily the audience is bored to tears.

J.C. and Damien escort Anita in to the main chamber with Jason and Asher following.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cerulean Sins Chapter Five

Anita starts making calls, which is a flimsy excuse to go in to detail about all of Anita's main squeezes. Micah and J.C. are both her boyfriends now--le gasp--which still has her all aflutter because nice girls don't date two guys at once.

I am so sick of this asshole child-woman having the exact same Lifetime channel angst she had throughout the last book (and probably before that too; I haven't read the intervening books so I can't say for sure).

 Is it really that weird to date two people seriously? Now granted I live in Seattle, one of the most liberal places in the U.S. (that's not to say we don't have our share of -ism issues, mind you, but moving on). Every year there's a transgender film festival, for god's sake, which I think you'd be hard pressed to find most other places. One of our zip codes is literally the most diverse zip code in the entire united states. Not only that, Seattle is heavily kink friendly. One of our most popular newspapers has a weekly column written by a dominatrix. So I'm spoiled by where I grew up, basically.

Therefore it's hard for me to understand why dating two men at one time is causing Anita so much unending angst. I date two men and never once has this fact caused me an ounce of trouble, at least not to my face it hasn't. I take them to my mother's house for holidays. I am not in the closest about it in the slightest. The most that has ever happened to me--luckily--is this annoying thing where mono people assume one partner is romantic and the other is a mere roommate. Now, there may be shit talking behind my back. I don't know, and I frankly don't care unless it's directly impacting my rights in some way.

So it may be that I'm coming from a place of privilege when I vent my frustrations on Anita, but honestly even with her upbringing and even though she lives in St. Louis, she's had so many unique and counter culture experiences at this point that I think a reasonable adult should probably have exorcised some of these demons by now. It's not as though the concept of dating more than one person at a time was just sprung on her yesterday. What did she think her whole angst with Richard and J.C. was? Sure, they were competing for her instead of living in polyamorous harmony but she was still with both of them at once, more or less, and that went on for several books.

Anita leaves answering machine messages. "How do you leave phone messages like this? "Hi Micah, this is Anita, Musette has come to town early, invading Jean-Claude's territory. Asher and I are driving to the Circus now, if you don't hear from us by dawn send help. But don't come down to the Circus before that unless I call personally. The fewer people in the line of fire, the better."

Well, I imagine you leave exactly that message, is how.

Once again we have to be reminded that Richard is a dick, because even though he dumped Anita he acts like everything is her fault. I like how she conveniently leaves out the fact that she raped him and blamed the rape on him immediately afterwards.

The Circus actually includes a carnival midway. It's really hard for me to imagine what this club looks like and how big it is. I mean, Seattle has a shit ton of clubs but I don't think what Anita is describing really works in a club space. It sounds more like an amusement park, which makes me wonder how the hell they got such a big lot in the first place. I know this is probably a dumb thing to fixate on, but too many of these logic loops and I get thrown out of the story, or I would if there was story to this worth mentioning.

"Once upon a time I'd come to the Circus to kill vampires. Now I used the employee parking lot. Oh how the mighty have fallen."

Even Anita knows she's shit at her job. She is the gives vampires unrealistic blowjobs-er. Screams her orgasms into the unsuspecting mouths of nearby vampires-er. Whether she was ever the Executioner is up for debate, as far as I am concerned, because I think in like eleven books she's killed maybe five vampires.

Asher is scared shitless and once again Anita just doesn't have time for his stupid little feelings, because I am somehow supposed to root for and support her petty sociopathy at every turn. But don't you see, Anita must reject and belittle all things pertaining to empathy because to do otherwise would make her act all girly and stuff and we all know how icky girls are and that they give you cooties.

Anita tries to talk Asher out of the car. Damien turns up because sure, why not. More interchangeable characters will certainly make this travesty better.

Apparently Micah sent him. I don't know why a wereleopard has the authority to tell a vampire what to do, and more than that Damien is already Anita's servant (sigh) so why wouldn't he show up of his own accord to protect her?

Strap in because we now get to know what Damien looks like again, complete with his hair being like "a spill of blood."

Damien is wearing slacks and dress shoes because for some reason European vampires don't like to wear jeans and sneakers. Whatever. I am pretty sure casual clothes are available in most places and honestly, vampires are predators. Successful predators blend in to their surroundings. That's why serial murderers like Ted Bundy frighten us so much. He looked and talked and acted like an attractive, upwardly mobile young man that many a mother would have been glad to see date her daughter. He didn't run down the street foaming at the mouth with a knife blade clenched in his teeth. Had he done that he would have been apprehended long before he racked up such a huge body count. Vampires ought to be the same, or at least the successful, well fed ones should be.

Anita acknowledges that Damien has no free will now that he is her servant.

You know what? I would actually go with LKH on this if she had any intention of exploring it. How do you care for someone who has no free will when it comes to your commands and desires? Is it possible for such a relationship to be healthy? What kind of abuses is Anita tempted to indulge in, and how does she deal with that? This is a pet peeve of mine, when authors include something very grey and problematic but then shy away from actually exploring it. Exploring it might lead a writer down paths some would consider offensive, but at least they'd be trying then. At least it would be interesting and challenging to the reader.

Instead we get some bullshit about how Anita wants to sex Damien up because of their bond, and that's it.

Asher tells Anita to touch Damien to draw power from him. ..."power flared between us like a breath of wind." For some reason flare and breath of wind just doesn't work for me. I am not convinced those images go together. At least Anita doesn't whine and bitch and moan about having to touch someone this time. A small victory but I'll take them where I can.

Blah blah power blah blah touching blah blah rightness, and Anita hits me with a line about knowing she doesn't love Richard anymore on the day her pussy no longer gets wet when she's near him. Oh well this is Anita so she says "body tighten" instead but come on, that's what she means. She has a really adolescent idea of love, doesn't she? It's embarrassing for a person in their mid thirties to conflate love and lust still.

Here comes Jason. Great. This is just a long chorus line of people I either don't care about or actively hate. He's wearing jeans because Americans love the casual look, apparently. Musette has offered to trade pomme de sangs with J.C.. In other words, she would feed on Jason and J.C. would feed on whoever her pomme de sang is. This is politically significant because trading like this is considered intimate. Of course Musette is doing this just to be an ass, because she knows J.C. doesn't want to let her feed on Jason.

Musette's pomme de sang is about fifteen years old and it's illegal to feed on minors in St. Louis. Jason informs Anita that two of Musette's vampire entourage are children. Except they're not really because they've been undead for hundreds of years. Now here's another thing that could be fascinating. Where do you draw the line with these things? Does it matter that they look like children, if they've had hundreds of years of experiences? Let the Right One In explored this somewhat, in that there was a pedophile character who traded sex with Eli for their mutual benefit, since Eli looks like a little girl despite being an ancient vampire.

Of course LKH by contrast is just including this to be darkity dark and shocking, which means she won't handle this delicately in the slightest. I am straight up disappointed. It's a book. It's essentially a free space to tease out the deeper meaning in social taboos, to create wholly magical societies that have alien moral codes in the eyes of the human characters. While a book can make you feel, words are not actions and you have free reign to do literally whatever you want. So it's especially irritating that she's just plopped these crudely drawn child vamps in to the middle for the sake of a cheap gross out.

Asher tells them that Musette isn't a child molester per se but likes to feed on the blood of children. Anita has some kind of seizure that knocks loose the fact that she's supposed to be the executioner, and protests because feeding on children is against the law. Yeah, we all know she won't do shit about it. I mean if she's that grossed out and she's so badass she ought to just march in there and execute the crap out of Musette.

Asher explains for the second time that Musette and by extension Belle Morte can't be fucked with because Belle Morte is le soudre de sang which essentially makes her the empress of her entire bloodline. Despite this being the simplest explanation in the world, Anita still doesn't get it. Asher uses small words and speaks slowly, and eventually Anita grasps that Belle considers her and Richard part of her bloodline and that they are therefore her property. She's sent Musette to test then so she can determine how to best use them. Belle Morte also considers the leopards and wolves hers, by proxy.

Anita's temper is kept in check thanks to Damien's influence because without someone else saving her from herself she's a useless toddler throwing a tantrum. I know characters don't have to be likable to be effective but she's really pushing it. Not to mention it turns out Damien was the plaything of an abusive female vampire, so he's basically traded one abuser for another by becoming Anita's servant. Gross. 

Jason makes piggish comments about Musette's breasts. Have I mentioned how much I loathe Jason? I hate Caleb even more (the leopard version). What is it with LKH including these walking penises whose entire character consists of being over the top sexists? It's really awful. It's not cute or endearing no matter how much the text tries to convince me otherwise.

Everyone's scared of Musette even though she looks like a Barbie Doll. Ergh.

Anita wants to kill her, everyone else says no. As much as I'd like to see Anita actually execute something, they do have a point about killing Musette bringing the entire vampire council down on them. Someone makes a comment about handcuffing Damien and Anita together, since Damien's influence calms her down. Jason pulls out a pair and says they're a prop he uses during his act, since he's a stripper.

"On one hand it was good to know Jason didn't carry around handcuffs for his own love life."


The thing I hate the most about Anita is that she's such an unapologetic judgmental dickhole. Why does she hate the idea of BDSM so much, especially consensual BDSM? She was a total fuckwaffle about Narcissus and Asher back in NiC, too. Would she rather everyone lived like her, trapped in a sexual hell she wants no part of but is forced to indulge in when the supernatural raises its ugly, engorged head?

Damien and Anita walk in to the club hand in hand, but it's not sexual you guys because that's what I care about when there's a murderous child molester vampire on the premises.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cerulean Sins, Chapter Four

Sorry I'm behind, you guys. Without turning in to Overshare Man, I'll just say that my mental health/med situation is nowhere near as good as it could be. Still, I think things are improving. I'm back on the med that I know works now, it's just a matter of waiting for it to kick in.

Onward to Anita. I'll try and do as many of these as I can so I can catch up with Dottie.

Anita is trying to protect Asher from all the people with guns. For some reason all the cops use "ain't."

It's only been five years since Addison v. Clarke, apparently, the landmark case that awarded vampires the same basic rights that living people enjoy. Before this cops were allowed to just shoot vampires on sight.

Anita is all I WILL HAVE YOUR BADGES IF YOU SHOOT and the bodyguards are like WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING BADGES and weirdly all the cops turn on the bodyguards with guns drawn. What? A moment ago they were ready to blast Asher away but now they're all on board with this?

I am confused.

Apparently Asher knows better than to just fly in to a group of cops while Anita is on the job, so something is "very wrong."

Could this be plot?

Though really, this little stunt ought to impact Anita's ability to get work in the future. Don't worry though, it definitely won't

Everyone fucks off except Nicols and the court reporter, effectively killing whatever tension LKH has managed to build. Nicols reminds us of the AB tradition whereby characters make perfectly obvious, logical conclusions and are praised for them all out of keeping with reality. In this case Nicols asks what's so important that Asher needs to fly in, and Anita thinks "Damn, he was too good a cop." 

Standards are low in this universe, is what I'm saying.

Anita makes a Star Wars reference as Asher and Nicols exchange pleasantries because if you're absolute shit at keeping your books relevant you should just have your MC fall back on hokey references to pop culture.

Okay so the next bit is confusing. I'll do my best. So Belle Morte is soudre de sang for J.C.'s bloodline, meaning she's the source of vampiric life for all other vampires that follow after her. This gives her special status in terms of vampire politics. Belle Morte has been fucking with J.C. and Anita through her vampire mind powers for awhile now, yet for some reason she's sent an ambassador of sorts in the person of a vampire named Musette. Asher has turned up to inform Anita that 1) Musette has arrived ahead of schedule and 2) Musette is apparently injured. Except she's not, because that is evidently Asher's way of keeping the truth from Nicols and the court reporter while still getting Anita to understand the seriousness of whatever is going down.

All right, I don't understand why saying she's been horribly injured is less incendiary than what is actually going on. Especially in front of a court reporter. You'd think an immensely powerful vampire arriving only to suffer a debilitating attack would be front page news, plus a reason for any group in opposition to J.C. to plan an attack. Whatever.

The judge is magically still here despite LKH telling me everyone left but Nicols and the court reporter. Sigh. Anita and Asher are going to leave to go handle the Musette situation but we have to pause so Anita can describe Asher's appearance for like three paragraphs, sure to mention his "blue, blue" eyes.

Asher is a tragic guy because oh my god, he has scars and people look at him with pity. Okay fine, but I know the real angst is whether his penis works or not. Kinda takes the oomph out of his personal angst arc, doesn't it?

Asher and Anita get in the car and start driving. According to Asher, Musette showed up an hour ago, which is an insult considering she and J.C. were still in negotiations about what sort of entourage she's allowed to bring.

Then we get this gem:

"His voice held sorrow so thick you could have squeezed it out, tears in your cup."

The first half of that sentence is so vague that it has no connection to the cup image at the end. His sorrow has to be as thick as something that would usually go in a drink for that to even have a hope of working. Not to mention there aren't many darkity dark things that go in to a cup, so I think this one might be a lost cause.

Despite Asher's voice having that much sorrow in it he's apparently hiding how he feels because his expression is blank. Wat.

Anita tells the reader once more that she's J.C.'s human servant since apparently we didn't understand after the first two mentions. She has memories of having sex with Asher through J.C. which I find particularly gross since Anita is a homophobic little shit and has no right to know about their lovemaking. It further pisses me off that even though she's in some way experienced the strength of their connection, she still keeps them apart because again, she is a homophobic little shit and for some reason seems to feel that her Midwestern upbringing justifies her bigotry.

Note: it does not.

Asher babbles some French stuff. The end result of all his title dropping is that Musette both speaks for Belle Morte and does Belle Morte's dirty work, not unlike Anita's position as Richard's bolverk.

Anita doesn't understand why they don't just retaliate against Musette (who she refers to as a "bad little vampire" gag) and thereby Belle Morte for this insult. Asher is appalled because that is simply "not done." I am leaning towards Anita's side on this matter, but I also think she's likely to fuck everything up by coming out guns blazing. Her track record in this regard is not good. For once I'd like to see her forced to play politician. That would be a lot more interesting than the constant cheap gun porn.

The woman in the car next to them stares at Asher, because the scarred side of his face is uncovered now that he's moved his hair back. "Americans are taught not to stare at anything that isn't perfect." I don't know why exactly but this statement gets on my nerves. There's some truth to it but then I can't help but think of the reality TV craze, or how that woman who has turned herself in to a Barbie Doll gets treated when she walks down the street (not kindly, in case it needed to be said).

So, Anita is supposed to be a vampire expert? Remember? Yet she keeps saying she doesn't get why they can't just attack Belle Morte, to the point where Asher says, "Mon Dieu do you not understand what it means that Belle is the mother of our line?" 

She says no she doesn't understand, and furthermore she needs an explanation. Vampire expert, people. Woman who has been a Master vampire's servant for at least two books now. But she doesn't understand why a soudre de sang is nigh god like to their bloodline?

Basically, Asher calls Anita an ignorant American who doesn't understand what it is to have a monarchy of sorts, or that it would therefore be treason to raise a hand against Belle Morte. He does it in a nice enough way to where Anita doesn't take it as an insult, but the idea of Asher dressing her down makes me happy so that's how I am going to interpret this bit.

Anita is all, if we don't stand against Belle Morte now she'll think we are weak and will be better motivated to take over in St Louis. Now that, I can get behind. Asher makes a pronouncement of certain doom. Wow, I sure hope they all get out of this alive. Just kidding, I still don't give a fuck about any of these people.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

short update

Hey guys! I'll try to get back to Anita tonight, but I am on a roll with the next Twisted Tree book and that has to come first. Don't worry though, because I haven't forgotten teh snarkz.

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